Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
San Francisco

A City which – unlike its vast Urban-Fantasy sibling Los Angeles – can be seen from above, envisioned whole from the hills which surround it and give it the appearance of a Polder. Also unlike LA, which cannot be seen and embraced as an entity, SF tends to be cherished by those who use it as a venue; and, because it is compact and has a correspondingly tellable history, SF is more usable for fantasy writers as a focus of Story. The SF fire – which features in Beverly Sommers's Time and Again (1987) and others – provides a natural magnet for protagonists drawn into Timeslips.

More broadly, SF's centrality as a city in the mundane world made it a natural focus for 19th-century writers of the fantastic. A Gracious Visitation (1921 chap) by Emma Francis Dawson (1851-1926) is a Ghost Story set in SF. SF remains a natural theatre for tales like Sarah Canary (1991) by Karen Joy Fowler (1950-    ), Virtual Light (1993) by William Gibson (1948-    ) and The City, Not Long After (1989) by Pat Murphy. Both Fowler and Murphy live in or near the city; other SF writers who use their home in their fiction include Lisa Goldstein, whose A Mask for the General (1987) and Walking the Labyrinth (1996) circle around the venue, and Jonathan Lethem (1964-    ), whose Gun, With Occasional Music (1993) and Amnesia Moon (1995) are both set in the city. Other fantasy tales set in SF – or which explicitly reflect its warm ambience – include James P Blaylock's The Paper Grail (1991), the latter parts of Mercedes Lackey's and Ellen Guon's Bedlam's Bard sequence, plus Lackey's The Fire Rose (1995), Fritz Leiber's Our Lady of Darkness (1977), Michael J Reaves's Street Magic (1991) and Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Black and Blue Magic (1966). [JC]

This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.